The Grand Bahama Soup Kitchen partnered with Sawyer’s Fresh Market and Express Food Mart to host an ongoing Food Drive, which began Monday February 12 to stock its Community Food Pantry.
Program Director for the Grand Bahama Soup Kitchen (GBSK) Benia Dean, spoke to this daily about the initiative during an interview on Monday (February 12).
Dean explained that Sawyer’s Fresh Market and Express Food Mart agreed to allow them to place food containers in their stores, to encourage customers to purchase additional food items and donate them to the Community Food Pantry at the Soup Kitchen.
“Essentially, right now, all of our contributions come from the community and various sponsors to cook the food and prepare the food for the soup kitchen,” she said.
She added that they want the pantry to grow so that when persons come in with particular needs, they can be assisted.
Brittany Heath Marketing Manager at Sawyer’s Fresh Market spoke on behalf of the store.
“On behalf of Sandy Sawyer and the Sawyer’s Fresh Market team we would like to thank you for selecting us to assist with the Food Drive, we hope that this effort will be successful and well received by the public,” she said.
Shauna Taylor, Express Food Mart Managing Director noted that they are happy to partner with the Soup Kitchen to give back to the community.
“We are happy to be on-board because we know that it is the customers who are in dire need, so we want to give back to our customers as they give to us. Without our customers we would not be here today,” she said.
Dean added that the GBSK began its mission last year by partnering with the Department of Social Services which identify families who would benefit the most from the program.
“What we do is, we give out meal tickets to Social Services and they distribute them to the persons that are most in need and the days when we have the soup kitchen they know when to show up,” she said.
She revealed that since December, they have also been handing out free hot soup and Johnny cake to over 200 persons, at a time, in the West Mall area.
According to Dean, every time the soup kitchen coordinates an event at least 200 persons are assisted.
“The last one was over 300 persons. We gave out only a 100 tickets to the Department of Social Services. Some of the people that came did not have tickets, but it was very apparent that they were in need,” she said.
Dean said that they do not turn anyone away.
Noting that the GBSK distributes pounds of groceries each month, Dean revealed that the most needed items in the pantry are nonperishable items, including spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, canned meats, peanut butter, canned vegetables and fruits, cereals and breakfast items, dried beans, pasta, rice, and macaroni and cheese.
All donations must be unopened, in original packaging and unexpired.